Finding your voice (BBC Radio 4)

Finding your voice was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 10th February 2015.

Comedy performer and broadcaster Helen Keen, explores a condition that she herself once suffered from, known as selective mutism or SM. An anxiety disorder that develops in childhood, those affected by SM can usually speak fluently in some situations, notably at home, but remain silent elsewhere - such as in school, with extended family members, or even parents. Their inability to speak is so severe that it's been likened to a phobia of speaking, and is often accompanied by the physical symptoms of extreme anxiety. Selective mutism can be mistaken for shyness or worse, a deliberate refusal to talk. But in reality, these children are desperate to speak, to share their thoughts and ideas, to make friends and to fulfil the expectations of their teachers and parents, in taking an active part in class activities. Yet somehow the words remain "trapped" inside as the anxiety, frustration and fear, builds.

In this programme, Helen meets some of those affected by SM, including parents and former sufferers as well as experts helping children to find their voice again. Producer: Rami Tzabar. Clip of the Alternative Comedy Experience courtesy of Comedy Central.

 Download MP3 (BBC Discovery)

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 You can find more about Helen Keen at
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